This week’s Haftarah portion is taken from 2 Kings 4:42-5:19. Listen in as Dr. Jeffery Myers unravels the story of the indebted widow and the limitless supply of oil.
Follow along in the AUDIO PODCAST, by clicking on the play button below, and reading along with the notes, as you listen to today's Haftarah:
Lion of Judah Speaks: Haftarah Portion - 2 Kings 4:42-5:19
Lion of Judah Ministries
Dr. Jeffery L. Myers
II Kings 4:1-7 sets the scene of desperate times requiring outrageous faith. The wife of one of the guild prophets had lost her husband. Upon his death he left her with unpaid debt. The creditor was on the way to take her two sons as payment. Can you imagine the scene and her deep despair? At the same time, she is grieving her husband’s death, she is also dealing with the emotional turmoil of his debt and the impending seizure of her children. She had no means to pay them and keep her sons. The legal system in Israel would not allow her to declare bankruptcy; she had to give her sons as indentured servants to her creditor as payment for the debts. This might seem inhumane but the creditor was within his rights; for Mosaic Law allowed him to enslave the debtor and his children as far as the Year of Jubilee in order to work off a debt.
The widow came to the Prophet Elisha fearful because of the debt and loss of her sons. In II Kings 4:2 Elisha asked her, “What do you have in your house?” Elisha wanted to help her, but he needed something to work with her to help build her trust in YHVH. Her answer is simple, “Your servant has nothing there at all, “she said, ‘except a small jar of olive oil.” There is some evidence that this jar of oil was not a larger supply held for cooking, but a smaller vessel that held only oil for anointing, possibly a “small anointing flask”. May we be reminded “Never underestimate the power of something because of its size!”
It is at this point Elisha put her to work. Elisha made this woman commit herself in faith to YHVH’s provision. He told her in II Kings 4:3 to go to all her neighbors and ask to borrow empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few! To borrow vessels in this manner invited awkward questions, but she did as the Word of YHVH through the prophet commanded her. She did it in faith; and the result answered the end. YHVH takes care to deliver His servants in ways that exercise their faith. He would not have them be little in faith, but to extend themselves beyond their comfort zone. You have YHVH in the measure in which you desire Him. However, remember that the desire that brings YHVH must be more than a weak, fleeting wish. Wishing is one thing; willing is quite another. Lazily wishing and strenuously desiring are two entirely different postures of mind; the former gets nothing and the latter gets everything, draw close to YAH, and with YAH all that YAH can bring.
Elisha gave her instructions to take every vessel, go behind closed doors with her sons, and pour the contents of the small flask of olive oil into every empty vessel. She took all she had—poured in out in faith into the borrowed vessels. As she did this, the oil miraculously kept pouring from the original vessel until all borrowed vessels were filled. At the end of it, she had a lot of oil! Can you imagine? I wonder how she reacted when she began to pour into the first one, I can imagine her as she cried, laughed, and danced as she poured and poured and poured!
Pay Attention…Elisha made her do this! He knew that the widow woman had to trust YAH and see YAH herself. That little flask of oil required constant pouring and allowing the oil to supernaturally fill the small vessel again. The vessels also had to be empty before they could be filled with oil. It did no good to bring the widow full vessels. Spurgeon said, “A full Messiah is for empty sinners, and for empty sinners only, and as long as there is a really empty soul in a congregation, so long will a blessing go forth with the word, and no longer. It is not our emptiness, but our fullness which can hinder the outgoings of free grace.”
So, the oil ceased! The miracle was given according to the measure of her previous faith in borrowing vessels. She borrowed enough so that excess oil was sold and provided money to pay the debt to the creditor and to provide for the future. Had she borrowed more, more would have been provided; had she gathered less, less would have been provided. She was herself to measure out what she should have; and it is the same for you and I. We make our blessings little, because our prayers are little.
The oil did not pour out on the ground or simply flow about. It was intended for a prepared vessel. Each vessel had to be prepared by being gathered, by being assembled, by being emptied, by being put in the right position and staying in the right position. When there was no more prepared vessel, the oil stopped!
We all have something YAH can use to work with our faith and bring us His grace. What is in your house? Where is your olive oil? YHVH reminds us what He has already given us. Not only that, He promises us that He would multiply it in a way we can never imagine. He pushes us to empty our vessels that He may fill us!
You may be like this woman—she was in desperation, and her back was against the wall. She was going through a desert place on her journey. Maybe it’s the same for you? You may feel like an empty vessel. But there are many lessons she learned that we can also gain. When you are in “trouble” seek Godly wisdom to gain a new perspective. Use what you have to get what you need! Sow where you want to go. She had one small flask of olive oil, yet, she was instructed to POUR IT OUT! Don’t be tempted to hold on to something because you can’t see where the next supply will come from. YHVH’s math is different and He will multiply your seed if you trust Him. This woman became a distribution channel for the Kingdom of YHVH with just one jar of oil. She didn’t depend on just her own supply, but sought her neighbors and friends’ resources, and they invested in this new venture. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! She was quickly able to sell her product because she was providing something that everyone needed at the time. Even in the midst of her own problem, she was a solution! YHVH gave her supernatural abundance, resources, and provision because she obeyed His Word!
Look what YAH did…in this widow’s indebted state, YAH made her an entrepreneur! She used what she had, despite how weak, scared she felt and YHVH turned her biggest misery into her greatest miracle and He will do the same for you! Seek Him with passion, find empty vessels and pour until every vessel is filled! YHVH will take care of the rest! Be encouraged today…in your place of weakness, you will find your greatest strength---YHVH!
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